No one wants to play a game that’s difficult to use. Despite major benefits for players, that difficulty is what’s preventing Play & Own (P&O) from going mainstream. Currently, there are two main sticking points: the wallet a player needs to get real ownership of their assets and the marketplaces they use for trading. But while each has its own distinct UX problems, both are completely solvable.
The problems with wallets: Ease of access, security, and friction
Wallets are the devices that players use to receive, manage, and interact with the assets they own. But they’re difficult to set up and use - requiring substantial research and energy from the players.
First, because not every wallet is compatible with every infrastructure or game, it’s the players’ burden to research whether the wallet they’re using is compatible with the game they want to play. Naturally, this frustrates players and can actively dissuade them from playing new games.
"When players finally integrate their wallets with the games they want to play, there’s still friction"
Once the player finds the right wallet, they need to create a passkey - but just generating this passkey can take time and cause them to bounce. A wallet passkey is made up of 12 randomly generated words that the player needs to enter in a specific order. If they lose it, it’s unrecoverable - it can’t be rescued or reset and all assets contained within the wallet are permanently inaccessible. On top of that, all fraudsters need to access and empty a player’s wallet is this passkey - so it’s vital players save it in a secure, physical place, adding more time and risk to the process.
When players finally integrate their wallets with the games they want to play, there’s still friction: they have to access their wallet separately from the game, either in another app or window, breaking their immersion.
The fix: Take the burden off the player
To fix the current problems with wallets, our focus needs to be on creating the shortest and easiest route for players to register and access a wallet. Step one is to create a wallet that can be used across infrastructures, enabling players to simply download it without needing to research anything.
The next step is to let players use a familiar and easy social login, bypassing the frustrating process of an unrecoverable passkey. This also makes it easier for players to log into different games with the same credentials, giving them an easier entry into the worlds they want to experience.
"Our focus needs to be on creating the shortest and easiest route for players to register and access a wallet"
Finally, and most importantly, would be to create a seamless interface between the wallet and the game. This would allow players to access their wallets directly inside the game and eliminate the friction that comes from an external wallet.
The problems with marketplaces: Forums, cryptocurrency, and complexity
Similarly, marketplaces are held back by the experiences they provide to players. Marketplaces are one of the greatest benefits of P&O, but they’re also difficult to use and integrate. Finding these marketplaces is not easy either - requiring players to navigate through Discord and online forums just to discover them.
"Each of these marketplaces is a separate experience with its own look and feel, it adds friction and breaks the in-game experience"
The most immediate problem is their reliance on cryptocurrencies. If a player wants to trade in a marketplace, they’ll need to have access to not just one, but many cryptocurrencies. This is because of the gas fees and different infrastructures used by different marketplaces. For players, this means interacting with an unfamiliar and complex economy, which could potentially dissuade them from using the marketplace. Plus, there’s the instability of cryptocurrency’s value, which can add volatility to all their transactions.
What’s more, trading assets for cryptocurrency means you’re essentially trading one token for another that still needs to be sold. This creates the need for yet another marketplace and access to even more currencies. Because each of these marketplaces is a separate experience with its own look and feel, it adds friction and breaks the in-game experience.
The fix: Crypto-free transactions
The solution to these problems requires an overhaul of the marketplace economy. There needs to be a universal marketplace currency unrelated to crypto. Making the currency universal enables peer-to-peer trading without requiring users to understand cryptocurrency. This creates a seamless player experience for all your players, not just crypto veterans.
"When players feel at home, they’re less likely to be overwhelmed and more likely to see the value"
Where possible these marketplaces should be natively integrated into the game and fit the look and feel. This way players are motivated to stay in that game’s world and keep playing. When players feel at home, they’re less likely to be overwhelmed and more likely to see the value.
The way forward
When building Astra, we understood that the current state of P&O’s UX prevented mass adoption. So we created a better way that delivers the experience that players are looking for while still offering the value of P&O.